EIGHT years after revealing the cute Fiat 500 which went on to become a massive success and a motoring icon the Italian motor manufacturer has just launched the new 500 but many people will find it difficult to tell the difference writes Bryan Longworth.
For Fiat has played safe with the exterior styling which is almost identical to the previous model even though the company has made 1,800 detailed changes to the new car that Fiat say have been loyal to the unmistakable 500 shape which is a very wise decision.
For I recall another major manufacturer many years ago completely changing the shape of its top selling model which adversely affected sales and it was a long time before the new model was accepted and sales recovered.
The two door 500 which starts at £10,890 has become a global best seller and Fiat hope that the carefully considered enhancements will ensure the new model will reassert itself as the iconic benchmark in its segment and continue to be a big seller - they produced over 1.5 million units of the previous model.
On the outside there are new headlamps, grills, chrome brightwork and LED daytime running lights with rear enhancements including new light clusters which are unique and said to resemble an illuminated tattoo!
The bonnet retains its distinctive clamshell form similar to its legendary predecessor while the trapezoidal nose gets more pronounced ribbing and the auxilary air vent is now fed via a three dimensional grille.
The revised interior is impressive with new Uconnect infotainment systems and the dashboard has also been substantially re-designed and is now much better than on the original model.
The only feature on the original 500 I disliked was the difficult to see speedometer but now there are digital secondary gauges which are much easier to see and will make owners more comfortable especially when approaching speed cameras.
There are hatchback and convertible bodystyles with three trim levels Pop, Pop Star and Lounge with engines including the 1.2-litre 69hp, the TwinAir 85hp and the TwinAir 105hp with five and six speed manual gearboxes and Dualogic robotised transmission - a diesel engine will follow later.
Standard equipment across the range includes seven airbags, remote central locking, electric front windows and mirrors, Uconnect radio with seven speakers, start & stop, space saver spare wheel and LED daytime running lights.
Owners who like to customise their 500 will be delighted with what Fiat call “Second Skin” options for the upper half of hardtop models costing £780 and include Navy nautical patterns and Camouflage described as “fashionably military”!
Despite not looking all that much different from the previous model the latest funky Fiat 500 has been updated enough to make sure it will remain a major player in this market sector where competitors include the Mini and Vauxhall Adam and build on the incredible sales record of this desirable little car.
Verdict: Certain to be another 500 winner.
Model: New Fiat 500.
Engines: Three petrol initially diesel to follow.
Transmissions: Manual and clutchless Dualogic robotised.
Trim levels: Three.
Prices: From £10,890.